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Stars, is circular, and therefore they move eternally, the Confequence would be very falfe. And this Opinion is more rationally maintained by fome modern Theifts, who embrace the Copernican and Cartefian Hypothefis. But firft, it will not be granted, that all the Parts of the Univerfe do move in a Circle; for 'tis plain that many of them move in an Ellipfis, and Comets in a Parabola. But fecondly, tho' they did move circularly, they could not naturally move infinitely.

Phil. But give me Leave to interrupt you, before you go any farther. I thought you had been too much a Philofopher to deny, that a Thing once in Motion, without Impediment, would move infinitely. I know a Stone or an Arrow cannot move on infinitely, because of the Renitency of a grofs Medium which hinders it; but what fhould hinder the Earth, the Sun, or any one of the Planets from doing fo?

Cred. The Thing which you take for granted, that a Motion of Thing once in Motion, without external Impediment, will Bodies in always move, will remain a Question, 'till we know what with Bodies Motion is, which we never fhall. Indeed I will not abTot infinite.folutely deny, that a Body once moving in a Vacuum


would ever cease: But this I will deny, that a Body moving in Contiguity with other Bodies, can naturally and of it felf move infinitely. Now this Earth of ours, as all the other Planets and Stars, move or fwim in the liquid Æther, which how fine and fubtile foever it be, iş ftill a Body. 'Tis necdlefs to go to prove the Reality of this fluid Body, becaufe (not to mention the Explosion and Crepitancy of nitro-fulphureous Bodies, Accenfion, and Fermentation, &c.) the Communication of Light from the remoteft Stars do neceffarily infer it; for go upon whatever Hypothefis you will to explain Illumination by, you must agree upon fuch an intermediate Body to convey it in. But it is most probable that Light is nothing elfe, but this intermediate Body, or the Ether; the Trepidation of which, arifing from the original Luminous Body, and communicated from one Particle to another all along the Space, ftrikes at laft upon the Organ, and makes

in us the Idea of what we call Light. Now fince this is a Body, it has the Property of Body, and that is Impenetrability, and confequently Refiftibility; and whatfoever refifts another Body in Motion, either changes the Term of its Motion and returns it back again; or elfe abforbs Part of its Motion; both which are inconfiftent with an equable eternal Motion. Now fince the Earth, and every Planet, moves in the Æther, the Ether muft fome Way or other retard the Motion of it: For fince it is not of Solidity enough to drive the Earth back, it must by continual tho' little Impulfes, weaken its Motion and therefore the Motion of the Earth can never be eternal. It will not avail to fay, that these Checks or Impulfes of this fine Matter are but small and infignificant; for tho' they be ever fo fmall, they will in an Infinity of Time perfectly abforb the whole Motion of the Earth, or any other Planets, and leave them at laft dead movelefs Heaps of Matter. So that fuch a circular Motion is not naturally eternal; nay that it is of any very long Continuance, it must be beholding to the confervative Providence of God, which we can give no natural Reason


2. Neither does a circular Figure contribute to the Du-Spherica!ration of the Subftance or the Bulk of the World. In-nefs does deed in a Hurly-burly of Matter, the jagged angular Pie-Infinity of not infer ces are more apt to be broken, and their Parts knocked off Duration. than the round ones; all whofe Parts are equally fupported. But the Cafe is otherways in Matter regularly modelled, and where the Motion is methodically terminated. For we fee that an Apple or an Orange is much fooner corrupted than a Flint, and yet generally the one is far more circular than the other.

Phil. Indeed this is plaufible Talk, but tho' this you have faid should be fufficient to overthrow the Arguments I have urged for the eternity of the World; yet it is no fufficient Proof, that the World is not Eternal; for there may be better Arguments than these I have produced to establish this Opinion; or if there were not, I should expect to hear fomething from you, to prove it to be other


the World.

ways. For we find the World as it is, and we are like fo to leave it; fo that we must conclude it always was fuch, until we fee good Reafon to think the contrary. Therefore the Proof, Sir, lies on your Side, and pray let us fee if you can defend your Opinion better, than I have done mine.

Arguments. Cred. You fhould not mifcall that my Opinion, which Against the is my Faith: but that shall break no Squares between us; Eternity of I will endeavour to defend this, as well as I can, by those Arguments, which, together with God's Grace, confirm me in it. You must not, Sir, expect, I fhould produce all thofe Arguments which are urged by Divines and Philofophers upon this Subject; I fhall only bring fome few choice ones, which feem to have moft Weight and Solidity. And,

Arg. I. ift, I fhall prove the World is not eternal from the From the Nature of Petrification, or the Growth of Stones and other Nature of offeous, Subftances. It is granted by all, that Stones do Petrifica grow; and Philofophers have made it clear, that the Way of their Augmentation is by the Concretion of faline Particles, which, according to their Commixture with more or lefs terreous Matter, make them either fine as Ada


ants, or coarfe as Pebbles and Free-Stone. Now by Experience we find it; that thefe Concretions are fo ftrangely durable, that hardly any Time is able to diffipate and diffolve them; for the Marbles in the great Pyramid in Egypt, which lie inwards, and are not expofed to the Wathings of the Rains, and the Frettings of the nitrous Air, are not in the leaft decayed, for all they have stood there fo many thousand Years. Now if Stones do continually incrcafe, and there be no fenfible Decay of them; upon Suppofition that the World has continued from Eternity, the whole World would be turn'd by this time into one maffy Rock by this eternal Petrification; for many Ages ago the Earth would have been incultivable, at leaft Men must have made ufe of Crows and Mattocks, inftead of Ploughs. And we may farther obferve the Inclination of the Earth to Petrification in Places uninhabited or difpeopled, as particularly in Paleftine, which formerly


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was a Place luxuriantly fruitful; but fince by the Ravage of the Romans and the Turks the Inhabitants are fo much thined, the Ground is grown ftony and barren for want of Cultivation. I fay for want of Cultivation; for Tillage does macerate and break the ftony Earth again into a fine and kind Soil, which is fit for Vegetation; and therefore, in these cultivated Parts of the World, we are not fo fenfible of the increafing Petrification, as we are in the uncultivated ones. Befides, I am apt to fancy, that the Subfidency of the Sea, in moft Parts of the World, is in fome Measure owing to the employing a great Part of its faline Particles in the Production of Stones which are partly concreted out of them; for thefe thin Salts, which are from thence drawn up with the Mifts and Rains, are the Principles of Petrification. Now this Argument may be farther improved, if we confider the Duration of Óffeous and Teftaceous Subftances, far exceeding the Time of their Production. The Bones of Animals are produced in a little Time, and are not diffolved in a very great one. The Shells of Oyfters, Muffels, &c. are concreted in one Year, and yet laft many Thousands as appears by thofe Beds of Shells we find in the Tops of Hills, which have lain there at least ever fince the Deluge. So that to any inquifitive Man it is plain, that Nature is every Day more and more overtaking her felf, and as it were treading upon her own Heels. For if the World had continued an Infinity of Time, we should have been all over-run with thefe Offcous and Conchons Subftances, and no Matter left among us proper for Vegetation. And indeed we cannot but obferve a Kind of Parfimony in Nature, as if he was afraid of this, by the fpeedy Corruption and Refolution of moft Animals and Vegetables, by a natural Principle which we generally call Fermentation: For there is an active fpirituous Matter lodged in the Compofition of Plants, Flowers, Flesh, &c. which after the vital Principle is gone, does, by an agile internal Motion, fhatter the Compages in pieces, that Nature may make use of the Parts again for another Work: juft as Printers are used to knock their Letters afunder, when the


Sheet is wrought off. Now unlefs Nature was afraid of wanting a fufficient Stock of this fine Matter, and being reduced to the faxcous and unpliable, which the fees every Day to grow upon her; fhe cannot be fuppofed to make fich precipitate Hafte, in the Diffolution of her former Productions; efpecially when Animals and Vegetables are fo inconfiderable a Part of the Bulk of the Earth. I do not fay, that this Increase of faxcous Matter is any great Inconvenience to the Earth already, or ever fhall be, if it continues but fome few thoufand Years more, or that this is any Imperfection in this great Work of the Deity; for it is well enough contrived for a World of fome thoufand Years Duration, but not for an eternal one: The World will keep very well in repair for fo fhort a Time; and therefore God Almighty does not fee fufficient Reasons to amend these small Decays; juft as we, when we have but a fhort Time in a Houfe or Eftate, take little Care to repair it, if it be like to laft well enough out our Time. Phil. Very Philofophick Divinity! what is your next Argument?


Arg. II. Cred. My next Argument I fhall draw from the SubfiFrom the dency of Hills, and the daily Landing up of the Sea; which finking of are Things inconfiftent with the Eternity of the World. Hills. For if the World has been from all Eternity, there could no where have been found fuch a Thing as a Hill; for Millions of Ages ago the higheft Hills would have been all washed down into the Sca, and the Earth would have been reduced to an abfolute Level; fo that the Waters would have totally overflowed it, and rendred it unha bitable. That the Hills are continually finking, being wafhed down by the Rains, and oftentimes vaft rocky Parts of them tumbled into the Vales by Storms, is undeniable to those that have seen the many great Stones, which lie at the Bottoms of Hills in Wales and Switzerland; to thofe that have obferved fome Parts of the Walls of old Rome to lie thirty or forty Foot under Ground, and other higher Parts of the City, as the Capitol, to have their Foundations wholly extant above-ground, and at the Bottom of the fame Mountain, the triumphal


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